Sunday, January 3, 2010

Motherhood = Trial and Error

Do you ever feel like you’re driving on autopilot and your GPS stopped working, so you’re not sure where you’re headed? Yesterday was one of those days for me. I felt that no amount of parenting books or classes or training could have helped me step into my parenting role in an effective way. My back was in serious pain and the Ibuprofen I took didn't help. I had deadlines and work to do and things to do, posts to write, emails to answer.

I had been unpacking boxes and moving things around during the Holiday break. I had also been spending a lot of time writing curriculum for my next Teleseminar, sitting in front of the computer and catching up with emails. Our daughter had started to feel ignored and as any 8 year-old girl she decided to use the technique she has discovered works best when mom is frazzled: guilt!

The dog needed to go out to play and she wanted me to go with her. I explained that I was in the middle of working and couldn't stop. She put her arms on her hips (a common pose these days) and looked me straight in the face and said: You like that computer more than you like me!

What a great opportunity for me, the parent coach, the trained professional to have recognized that her sassiness was a call for one-on-one time more than an act of defiance. Guess what? I failed the test! I turned around and gave her a harsh look and a scolding answer , which guaranteed me the proverbial answer : You are a meanie! as she went crying to her room.

I was sooo mad at her for having the audacity to interrupt my moment of inspiration!

I don't need to tell you that exactly 30 seconds after that thought crossed my mind, I went into full mommy-guilt mode. I apologized to her and at first she didn't accept my apology. I knew I had blown it and my husband had watched it all without saying a word. I don't mind messing up as long as it is in private: that's much easier to do. But I had a witness! I allowed our daughter to have her space to be mad at me and later we ended up making up. That's one of the beautiful things about young children: their innate ability to forgive and move on!

Do you remember a time when you were "less" than your ideal parent? What did you do about it? I sure would love to know!


  1. This really spoke to me. Just the other day both hubby and I were on our respective computers - doing something *really* important I am sure - and our 4 yr old started acting out. We were shocked at the things he was doing ... bending the covers of books, jumping on the sofa, pulling the cat's tail... you get the idea. Suddenly, we realized, he was just trying to get attention, negative or otherwise. We decided right then to shut the laptops and have some good family time.

  2. I could share so many stories its almost embarrassing.

    Most recently my moment was with my almost 16 year old son. In order to buy his girlfriend a gift he had agreed to do the evening walks with our dog for 14 days. We live in frigid Manitoba so this is no easy chore since I insist the time outside be at least 45 minutes and include both discipline (on leash) and free run time.

    When we arrived home yesterday after a family ski trip - tired, cold and ready to just relax, I already new he wasn't going to want to do this job. I waited for a couple hours (after dark) and then asked him if he was going to take her out. He responded, "No, not tonight, I'm exhausted and I just want to enjoy my last evening before school."

    I'm not sure why, but this rankled me and I responded, "So much for promises! Fine that you don't feel like it, but what about the dog? You made a deal now keep it!"

    He got angry, argued then, to his credit, bundled up and took the dog out for the full amount of time. He wasn't out the door a minute before I realized that I had played the "guilt" card and abused my parent power.

    When he came back in I apologized which he accepted and then in his teen-age way said, "You shouldn't do those kind of things mom - you know it's an abuse of your parent power!"

    I guess one of the advantages of being a parent educator's child is by the time you're a teen you can see where your parent goofed and even call them on it.

  3. Thank you both for your honest and thoughtful comments. Just like both of you, I know that I am a better parent when I take time to think and not react. But the truth is we are all humans, and there will be times when we won't be at our best.
    We have an opportunity to apologize, something I didn't get to hear EVER from my parents. Right there our daughter's experience is different.
    And I am coming to learn that this "mommy-guilt" think is not always a bad thing: some times it's a good indicator of where we need to "rethink" a situation!
    Thanks again for your insightful sharing! I look forward hearing from you again!